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TAMERLANE                         211

"ornamented very skilfully with mosaic, and blue and
gold work," and gives the population at 200,000 houses,
or a million persons, with the remark that it was formerly
more populous. Sultania, too, is described as an im-
portant centre, and some account is given of Gilan from
hearsay. Continuing along the historical trunk route so
often referred to, they mention the city of Teheran—for
the first time, so far as I know—and a diversion was
made to Lar, now the favourite summer camp of the
English colony. Rejoining the Meshed road in the
vicinity of Damghan, the ambassadors, who were ill from
the constant riding and heat, reached Nishapur, where a
member of the embassy died. At Meshed the Castilians
were permitted to visit the Shrine of the Imam Riza, and
a reference is made to the " l^rge -tomb which is covered
with silver gilt."
The onward route lay by Merv, and the party nearly
died of thirst in the desert before the Murghab was
reached. The Oxus is referred to as ^'the Viadme which
is another of the rivers which flow .from Paradise. It is
a league in width and flows through a very flat country,
with great and wonderful force, and it is very muddy."
Crossing by a bridge of timber near Termiz, the
travellers passed the famous " Gates of Iran," the Eastern
Darband or "Shut Gate," and Clavijo dwells on the
power of the monarch who was lord of both the celebrated
passes bearing this name ; the other, to the west of the
Caspian Sea, better known as Derbent, has been already
referred to more than once, Kesh, the home of Tamer-
lane, is described, and its polished glazed tiles, in gold
and blue patterns, made a great impression on the
Finally Samarcand wapy reached, and after waiting for
eight days, according to etiquette, the ambassadors were
received by Tamerlane. The description of the Great
Conqueror and of the audience is of historical value and
had better be given in the words of Clavijo :'
"Timur Beg was seated in a portal, in front of the
entrance of a beautiful palace ; and he was sitting on the
ground. Before him there was a fountain, which threw